This past weekend the Boston Rebellion US CUP UCI race went down in Walpole at Adams Farm. It was part of the fourth annual Barn Burner XC race. What Pete MacLeod and Marty Allen have accomplished is nothing short of amazing. Five years ago no one even had heard about Adams Farm. No one rode there. Pete and Marty have built a mecca for legit MTB racing in Boston. Having a UCI mtn bike race so close to Boston is a game changer. I don't like to use that word as it is so over used but in this instance it is spot on. New England needs this. Mountain bike racing needs this. HUGE high fives to Pete and Marty and their whole crew!
I had visions of doing both days but #Dadlife got in the way and I ended up going to Ghostbusters with the kids when I was supposed to be racing the short track Saturday night. It actually was a wicked smart move on my part as I was in an air-conditioned theater eating popcorn when I would have been dying in 95 degree heat going full redline trying to not get lapped. I am more an XC guy anyway. I had also registered for the SS MTb race on Sunday so saving my legs for some true suffering wasn't the dumbest thing I have ever done either. The pre-reg was looking like a Zank SSCX reunion. Even Jerry was threatening to race his Zank with 27.5+ wheels! Kevin took this race wicked seriously as you can see in the picture above. He went full Y-Bike. Why? Because it was rad. That bike deserves a full blog post. But I think he already did one about it. Suffice it to say it was the coolest and most PRO jank bike I have ever seen.
"Uncle" Jerry crashed on my couch the night before the XC race. Again, this was like going in the Zank SSCX hot tub time machine. Jerry is a founding member of this little Island of Misfits that got the Zank SSCX up and running. I believe he is still technical director. He is as long as he wants that title anyway. Either way he is basically my bike twin. We both have sick Zank SS that we mess around with constantly. I forget who it was I talked to in the expo but they looked at my Zank on the line and said "This thing never looks the same. Why do you mess with it so much?" Umm cause its awesome....Jerry had his bike in full NEXT 27.5+ beast mode. 2.8 IKONS. Rigid fork match painted. If 11 is the most awesome this thing is a 12.
Boston Rebellion felt like a mini-Gloucester. But for mountain bikes. The EXPO was so PRO. Sierra Nevada beer garden, full team pit row, fantastic to see. This is what mtn biking needs to keep growing. I set up close to Pedal Power and right next to Kurt and Comprehensive Racing. It was so great to see everyone. But on to the race! Jerry and I as the seasoned veterans of countless bike pedal contests were equal parts amused annoyed by all the madness surrounding us in the staging area. People were hoping fixed fencing and almost hurting themselves while doing it. Juniors were stealth staging in with the 50+. Fat bikers were pounding red bulls. And all the Singlespeeders were just like why aren't we vaping. And where is the bourbon? But this was serious bike racing and we were not going to ruin it! I warned Jerry more than once about following the fat bikers. I specifically said " Now Jerry DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT follow the fat bikers into the first, second or third rock garden" You nodded in some recognition of what I had told him.
Somehow the whole hot mess of a staging sorts itself out and the fat bikers and SS MTB go off in a wave between the 50+ and Juniors. The fat bikers have gears. But are on the Sherman Tank of pedal bikes. So of course the SSers who were staged behind them were all mixed together by the time we hit the gravel road to the hole shot. My only advantage in this bike contest was my knowledge of the course. I knew just how much mayhem was awaiting us. I LOVED the new course and direction it was run. Great flow and perfect for a SS. But when you take 50 people on fat bikes and SS MTB and funnel them into a single track things are going to get interesting.
Jerry had done some very next level CX tape surfing and got himself pretty close to the actual hole shot. I was locked in with a good group of SS and a few Fat Bikes. Everything was surprisingly civil. I love riding the dry creek crossing. I have it pretty dialed. But not on the first lap in traffic. The second I came around the turn I was off and running on the outside. I must have passed 5 people who were hung up on the rocks. I ran all the way to the top of the next section where I found Y-Bike Kevin.
I got on Kevin's wheel and had literally the best mtb race of my life. I tend to do very stupid things in mountain bike races. I go off to fast. I make super bad line choices. I crash my brains off. No matter what I tell myself it always happens. But I was oddly super calm. I think it was finally racing in "bad" conditions. It certainly wasn't bad but was overcast and "muddy" and it started raining as we hit the single track. It was perfect for me. And Kevin is super smooth. And pedals. I am not smooth and mash. Being smooth and pedaling clearly is the way to go. We were in a great spot and moving through groups. Some Juniors caught us and went flying by. But that was it. We were only moving forward. One of my favorite moments was when we crossed the power lines and were coming to another power section of a climb. We both did full on high speed CX dismounts and ran up the hill. The fat bikers freaked out. They were like "WOW, WHAT THE HELL IS THAT A CX MOVE?"
I guess maybe it was more being stubborn or being overconfident that the CO2 would seal the tire. I hit the inflator and Stan's goes shooting everywhere. Its like a Gallagher show. Now I see the problem and realize I am screwed. Sidewall is totally shredded. Must have hit one of the axe head rocks. Which is bizarre as like I said I was riding very smooth. Well, it is what it is. That my friends is racing. I actually was ok with it. Like I said I was having probably the best mtb race of my life. I never race that well. So mission accomplished. I of course was the furthest possible distance from the expo. Can't MTB races have neutral pits on the far side of the course? That would be amazing. I think we should make this happen...So I start the nature hike portion of my bike pedal contest. I ride the flat when it is safe and I don't think I will destroy the wheel on a rock. I try and cheer people on. They are so smashed to pieces my cheers only seem to make them sad so I stop. Then I see Alex and Shane at the course crossing. My mood improves dramatically! It only gets better as Shane hands me a beer! Yes bike racing is awesome!
Alex and I walk back to the Expo. I hang out, get some tacos from the taco truck and drink a frosty cold beer. Life is pretty damn good. Y-Bike Kevin finishes up his race and we hang out. Such an awesome time. Ed and Kevin (HUP Kevin) both podium! Jenny, Thea and Michele have great races and rep HUP so well. HUGE thanks to everyone who made this happen. It was so great seeing people so stoked to race mtn bikes. Oh and yes, back to the title of this blog post. So Dirtwire TV must have that ESPN. Or have a crystal ball or some dark magic. In a pre-ride video I watched Thom mentions you definitely want sidewall protection on your tires for this course. Frankly New England is no place for tires without sidewall protection. So when I bought a new tire. A nice Ardent Race. I thought it was the EXO version. It of course was not. It was the super light race version. God damnit my ADD sucks sometimes. So lesson learned. EXO or GTFO.